Lookin’ for Jesus
As a boy watching the original Poseidon Adventure a love scene (one of my favorites of all time) struck me as mysterious and distinctly apart from the usual Hollywood syrupy scenarios of love I had been previously exposed to. Ernest Borgnine and Stella Stevens are a couple on the ship in a storm, turns out before they were married he was a cop and she was a prostitute. She’s seasick as hell and they’re quarrelling.
“You only had me arrested seventeen times!” she eventually says furiously.
“It was the only way I could think of to keep you off the streets!” Ernest replied, beseeching with palms upraised for reason.
A man who was trained to punish part of the most outcast among us somehow, through all the negative filters society thrust upon him, still saw a beautiful woman as a prostitute and fell in love with her. It’s one of the most Christian movie scenes I've ever seen.
“Have you found Jesus, Gump?” Gary Sinise asked in Forrest Gump.
“I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him,” Tom Hanks replied, prompting Sinise to laugh.
I took the question seriously when I heard it, for some reason, wondering what would happen if one went totally looking for Jesus. Not some chickenshit theological mental meander over a book or going to Church once a week, but truly the life of a committed Christian like Francis. There are many souls among us this very instant who took Francis quite seriously, living with almost nothing, all for the service of others in disciplines that can be very uncomfortable.
What happens if you go looking for Jesus? One surely ends up like Ernest Borgnine, despite all that he was trained for and what society said how we should look upon such souls, he still walked the earth and fell in love with a whore, committing his life to her.
No matter how many mistakes humans make in their spiritual journeys, no matter how twisted the theology or shouted volumes of anger buffeting us from those who carry the cross, the knowledge of who Jesus was is still undiluted: a man who fiercely defended and nourished the poor, the outcast and most despised among us.
Americans know it, praise to baby Jesus, and the good news came forth from Orcinus last week from the enviably talented Sara Robinson: a serious and exhaustive survey found American evangelical Christianity taking a massive hit, especially from the young.
Looking for Jesus does not mean you end up in a place where you hate and persecute homosexuals. It does not mean excluding women. It does not mean one fiercely hooks political allegiance to liars who delight in despoiling the earth, glorifying the rich and punishing children for adult mistakes.
Americans see how lost those who bray hatred are, how astray they have gone when they exclude human souls, and the little love jolt from the Barna Study was mighty welcome for the optimistic forces in life, thanks again, Mrs. Robinson.
This is not to say we should be unwary to those who would organize hatred and violence, not at all, but it is a welcome confirmation that Americans are a good people who eventually see the truth. The political comrades who enable those who hate among us are soon to be massively defeated, too, just another step in a maturing American Christianity looking harder for Jesus.